Brief disclaimer: this report has nothing to do with pro wrestling. Crazy, I know, but I *do* have other interests! If you stick around, I hope you enjoy this report:
The first convention of 2019 is in the books for yours truly and it was a (mostly) pleasant experience. It’s pretty rare when a convention goes 100% perfect but JP’s Sports & Rock Solid’s White Plains show came pretty damn close.
I arrived just after 10 AM and was pretty peeved that parking was $15.00! Upon entering the Westchester County Center, I purchased an admission ticket for Jenna and I ($10 a ticket) then purchased a Ken Singleton 8×10, Sopranos 8×10, and the Sopranos group photo op. My first minor annoyance occurred at the Will Call station.
I made two separate pre-orders: 1st was autograph tickets for Dominic Chianese and Michael Imperioli and the 2nd was autograph tickets for Ken Singleton, Federico Castelluccio, and Vincent Pastore; however, they only had my Singleton/Castellucio/Pastore tickets. Thankfully, I printed out my email confirmation and I was escorted to the tickets table and was quickly given my Chianese/Imperioli autograph tickets. No harm, no foul and the staff was super helpful.
We exchanged our admission tickets for stamps and headed inside the floor room. They basic layout of the room: actors Ari Lehman stationed at the back-left corner (right by the bathroom and Nathans!), Dwier Brown back-right. Continuing forward were rows and rows of vendors, almost all of them exclusively selling trading cards, old and new.
Dead ahead was a rather large, elevated stage that was reserved for the majority of major names: Paul O’Neill, David Cone, Ken Singleton, Dominic Chianese, Michael Imperioli, Federico Castelluccio, and Vincent Pastore. I saw a slowly forming directly below the stage, so Jenna and I decided to hop on. Below the stage on the right hand side was a table for Trevor Hoffman and Bert Blyleven; below stage left was Doug Drabek and Andruw Jones.
As the time crept closer to 11:30ish, I realized that photo op times were not posted anywhere. Hmm. Jenna held my spot on line while I went back out to the lobby and asked someone when the photo ops would be happening. He told me that they didn’t know when photo ops would be happening and they’d make an announcement over the PA system when it was time. Cool.
Fast-forward to around 12ish and the same man who told me about the photo ops made his way to his stage, microphone in hand, and announced that photo ops would occur *after* autographs and called for anyone with tickets numbered 1-10 for any of the main guests. My Pastore ticket was #5 and Castellucio was #7, so I made my way up to the stage.
O’Neill/Cone/Singleton had emerged and taken their seats but the Sopranos guys were still MIA (though I think they were slated to sign at 12). About 10 minutes later, the gentlemen with the microphone asked if anyone had Soprano guys only. I told him that I did with the exception of my Singleton (ticket #15) and he told me to get Singleton out of the way and just standby for the Soprano guys. Sweet!
I was born long after Ken Singleton‘s career but, gosh, I’ve heard him call so many Yankees games since the late 90s. His voice was a major, major part of my childhood; hell, it still is! Singleton was incredibly nice and was more than willing to do a table op. A combo for less than $20? Major score for me!
After that, I stood near the Sopranos tables and they emerged a few minutes later…well, two of them did: Castelluccio and Pastore. They got settled quickly and, as it just so happens, I was directly in front of Castelluccio’s table so he signed first. He was incredibly, incredibly nice and introduced himself first. He asked if I wanted him to sign his character name underneath his signature and I happily accepted. Great guy.
Next was Pastore, who was signing these little blank, beige labels. He was…okay. He took my 8×10, signed it quickly, and that was that.
Two down, two to go…but wait! An employee told me that I was the last Pastore autograph as they needed him and Castellucio for photo ops! They announced photo ops were happening *after* autographs!
I quickly made my way to the photo op room and went in. I asked if they were doing the group photo but no one was sure! Thankfully, Imperioli and Chianese joined Pastore and Castellucio and they decided to do the group photo! There was only 3 people in front of me, so I got the photo op quickly. I LOVED how it turned out, probably one of my favorite photo ops ever. They also had someone jotting down email addresses for a free digital copy of the picture.
Afterward, I made my way back to the stage though I didn’t know whether I should wait below or try and go back up to the stage. Jenna urged me to do the latter and, thankfully, the guy with the microphone told me to wait for the other two Sopranos guys by their tables
They came back about 10-15 minutes later. Jenna was on Imperioli’s line while I was on Chianese’s line though Imperioli’s line was smaller and going quickly, so I hopped over to his line and he couldn’t have been any nicer. I’m such a fan of his and it was a real treat to meet him. Really nice guy.
Finally, I hopped back on Chianese’s line and, of course, I was behind two teens who had 3-4 items, got them inscribed and personalized, and asked for a table op. Chianese was nice to them but clearly annoyed and even (politely) asked them not to hold up the line. He was really, really nice and even inscribed “Uncle J” after I asked. Another treat.
After that, I headed back to the photo op to claim my print out photo op. I had a free Dough Drabek autograph but the line was super long and I didn’t care enough to cash in, so we left.
Easy show. I had a Sopranos book with me that had a full page, color photo of Chianese and Imperioli but only had two very, very small photos of Pastore and Castellucio, so I went with the 8×10 and I’m so happy I did. It’s one of my favorite autograph pieces ever. It will always be incomplete due to the death of James Gandolfini, sure, but still…really good lookin’ piece imo.
Someone had a big ass poster from Goodfellas that was signed by a shit ton of cast members. Really cool piece.
They turned on the stage lights and it was *boiling* hot up there. Woof.
A bunch of football players were advertised but I didn’t see their tables. I *think* they were utilizing the upstairs area but didn’t see anything (other than empty seats).